Even more than coating ourselves with bug spray, on our recent trip to St. John, it was so important for us to slather on sunscreen from sun up to sun down. The Caribbean sun is powerful, and our pale Seattle skin was definitely not used to the constant sunshine. While on the island, we had the chance to try out the Babytime! Sunny Sunscreen. We were provided with a sample bottle in exchange for our honest thoughts and review.
We still have another month of so left until spring begins, so instead of retreating indoors waiting for better weather, we are embracing it. We’ve actually had some snow days here in Seattle, which is pretty rare for us, allowing us to pile on our cold weather gear and head outside to play.
In addition to enjoying the cold and snowy weather “in our own backyard”, we also recently headed to Mount Rainier National Park for a snowshoe and sledding adventure. A lot goes into planning and packing for a trip like this, so I thought I’d share our Cold Weather Packing List geared toward families with babies and young children. Georgia, our 2-year old, is particularly sensitive to cold temperatures, so we have to be extremely careful and intentional when dressing her to head outside.
Georgia and I have been busy testing the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 Carrier this past summer and into fall. We’ve loved the opportunity to add some experience with another hiking style carrier to our repertoire. This review is intended to help more families make informed decisions about the product they ultimately decide to purchase. If possible, we always advise to visit an outdoor store, such as REI, to try on the carriers yourself. When you see them in person, you are better able to see each carrier’s features. You can also feel the pack on your very own shoulders, back, and hips. However, hopefully our review will give you some things to think about as you compare and make your decision.
Aloha from Maui! We are so thankful to be be back in Hawaii. Maui happens to be the first Hawaiian Island that I have visited–in 2008, Slaed and I got engaged here! We started our journey of becoming a family on the shores of West Maui, so it only seems fitting to bring our kids to share our love of this island with them.
Yes, the vacation style is a bit different, but we’ve already had a lot of fun reminiscing and pointing out special spots to Bergen and Georgia. In a small way, Bergen actually understands what we’re talking about, so that’s been neat to see.
Since we’re here, and beach vacations are so popular with families, I thought I’d share our packing list. On the list you’ll find all (most?) of the items we bring to prepare us for a beach vacation with babies and young children. We don’t bring the entire kitchen sink, but I must admit that we bring a lot! Some items, of course would depend on the type of lodging you choose, and whether or not your property owners have some of the things you need on hand, and weather is always a factor to consider…and consider again!
Home or away from home, sleep is extremely important to us as parents. The downtime that occurs between our kids’ bedtime, and when we turn in for the night recharges us, and nap time is as much of a restful, restorative break for us parents as it is for our kids.
Since we have a good sleep routine at home, we do our best to replicate that dreamy environment when we travel. We’ve shared our routines and tips for getting babies to sleep when traveling, so I thought I’d share the specific gear we bring along to help create the perfect snooze situation. Make sure to reference our packing lists as well to help prepare you for your next trip!
We’ll soon be headed on our first tent camping adventure as a family of four! While Georgia has had two cabin camping experiences, she’s yet to see what it’s like to be without the comfort of four solid walls. As we prepare, I’m realizing that camping takes a little more planning ahead than our typical travel. Maybe that’s just because of the freqency. I’m sure we’d turn into a well oiled organized machine if we went more often, but I’m definitely finding that lists provide a lot of guidance and help for us.
Now that our youngest is slowly but surely heading out of the baby stage, and into toddlerdom, I thought it would be appropriate to share our picks for the best baby travel gear. We’ve thought through our routines and travel practices, and chosen the items that make travel with a baby easier, more manageable, and just generally possible!
Just as in “regular” life, travels styles are personal, so I won’t be going on and on sharing every little thing we pack for travel with a baby. Instead, I’ve chosen some of the essentials or “biggies” to think about when considering a trek with your tiny companion.
As active as our family is, I must admit that it came to a surprise, and of course was concerning, that our little girl was not reaching gross motor milestones (sitting up, crawling, standing) at the same rate as her average peers. We were especially worried when at her 18-month check up with the pediatrician, we had to report that she wasn’t yet walking.
“You must be carrying her too much” was what many bystanders would reason. Since she is our second child, some thought we held her more, and thus impeded her development We were moving at Bergen’s (now 4.5 years) pace rather than allowing Georgia the chance to move on her own.
We first learned about the Guava Family company when I was pregnant with Bergen, he’s almost 5 years old now. Slaed and I were shopping at REI and noticed the Go-Crib (one of their original travel cribs) set-up and on display. We knew immediately that it was the crib for our future travels and outdoor adventures, and purchased it right away.
The Go-Crib served us well for many years (5 years!) of frequent use including travel and in-home childcare. We roughly calculated, and it’s likely that the crib was set-up and taken down approximately 500 times! Unfortunately all that use took it’s toll on one of the valves where the pump is inserted, and consequently the small piece tore, not allowing us to keep one of the legs inflated. Such a bummer! We absolutely adored that crib, and are so grateful for all the years of wonderful, comfortable sleep for our two little travelers.
The bad news is, the Guava Family couldn’t replace our Go-Crib (since the product has been discontinued), but the good news is, they now make an even easier (and faster) to assemble travel crib called the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib. Guava Family generously sent us the Lotus in exchange for our honest review here on the blog.
Our kids are at the ages (17 months and 4.5 years) where children’s museums are a big deal to us. Children’s museums provide us with the opportunity to entertain, occupy and delight both of our children, each in their own unique ways.
Slaed and I are embracing this season of life rather than rolling our eyes and wishing we could be doing something that “the whole family” can enjoy. With both of our children engaged and engrossed (and learning!) in activity, we can actually take a breath, and even have a little fun.
We recently got to visit the Hands-on Children’s Museum in Olympia, Washington as part of a weekend visit to our capitol city, and we were more than impressed! Below, I’ll go into more detail in regards to everything we loved about the place, but just know that if you have young children, and live or will be visiting anywhere close to Olympia, get yourself to the Hands-on Children’s Museum!
We just returned from a beautiful weekend in Lewis County, Washington, about 2 hours south of Seattle. Ike Kinswa State Park, where we stayed, is a little over 450-acres with most of it’s focus on camping. To the east is the Cowlitz River, to the west is the Tilton River, and at the confluence is Mayfield Lake. Mayfield Lake was created by the Mayfield Dam located in the nearby town of Mossyrock.
Along with camping, visitors also enjoy recreational boating, fresh water fishing, and swimming and water skiing in the warmer summer months. We were just happy to enjoy some solitude and time away from the city with plenty of opportunity to hike and explore nature as a family.
Based on our experience at Ike Kinswa, along with our adventure at Samuel P. Taylor State Park in California, and all the fun that we had camping when Bergen was a baby, I wanted to share a few quick tips! As you’ll see we took some “short-cuts” here, and some might even dare to say that we weren’t actually camping, but for our purposes (vacationing and enjoying the outdoors in a park as a family), I think we did just fine!
5 Helpful Tips for Camping with a Baby
Stay in a Cabin or Yurt
There’s a lot of work involved in setting up camp even for just a few nights, and we appreciate taking the tent assembly out of the equation. Also, when the weather is hard to predict (and planning far in advance is necessary), we appreciate a guaranteed warm and dry shelter! We’ve stayed in numerous state park cabins and yurts over the years, and find them so delightfully cozy, comfortable, and affordable.
We get the best of both worlds. We still get to be immersed in nature, but also get those comforts of home such as heat, electricity, and a bed to sleep on.
This extensive Guide to Seattle with Kids is brought to you in collaboration with Expedia.com. All opinions and ideas are my own, and the content was created and written by me. Special thanks for providing the push that I needed to finally create this (hopefully) helpful and long overdue resource for families!
As a resident of Seattle, Washington for over 10 years, a teacher, and a mother of two young children, I’ve come to realize that Seattle really is a great city for kids! Over the past 4 years of blogging, I’ve certainly written about some of our favorite spots, including things to do and places to eat, but I’ve yet to compile it all into one handy guide for those visiting Seattle with kids, or for fellow Seattleites who are looking for more ideas…until now!
In this guide to Seattle with kids, you’ll find our favorite recommendations for activities and restaurants, plus a few of our recommendations for lodging. For planning or organizational purposes, I’ve divided the guide into two sections: The Downtown Core & Beyond Downtown (though still within the city limits). Of particular note and what I absolutely love is that most of our attractions can be enjoyed by everyone, not just children, not just adults, but the whole family!
We love staying in hotels that have been around for years and years for their charm, history, and character, but there’s also something to be said about a staying somewhere that’s brand-new. The words modern, fresh, and contemporary come to mind when I think of our experience at Victoria, BC’s DoubleTree Hotel. We stayed here during our recent visit to Vancouver Island (you can view our 7-day itinerary here), and we were quite pleased with the visit!
We’ll soon be traveling to Vancouver Island, British Columbia for a week of fun and adventure mostly centered around the towns of Victoria and Tofino. It’s hard for me to believe and sort of embarrassing to admit that I wasn’t more organized, but until just recently, I was writing out a new packing list for EVERY SINGLE trip we took! Often I would copy or use a previous packing list as reference, but what a waste of time!
I’ve finally compiled all the notes and scraps of paper, from over 4 years of traveling as a mom, into an organized road trip packing list. Now, I can just quickly print off the list, add items specific to the particular trip we are taking at the time, and start packing!
Before we get any further into 2016, I wanted to share some of our 2015 Christmas vacation with you! We visited family down in the Bay Area, and instead of crowding into family members homes, renting a vacation house or staying in a hotel (though we did spend one night at a Hilton Garden Inn), we rented cabins, and camped in a state park about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco.
Truth be told between travel, set-up, clean-up, and packing-up, it was a lot of work, but for me WELL WORTH all the effort. I put together a video that features a tour of the cabins, a little bit of our Christmas celebration, and some snapshots and clips from our hikes around the park.
We traveled to Wenatchee, Washington (located about 2.5 hours east of Seattle) this fall to escape the hustle and bustle of our busy city before the holidays, and get the chance to take in the beautiful autumn colors of North Central Washington. However, Wenatchee, and the entire North Central Washington region is a destination that’s fitting anytime of year! The area boasts almost 300 days of sunshine annually, yet 4 distinct seasons, making it great for families looking to enjoy the outdoors.
For this particular visit, we had 2 nights to enjoy the small city of about 33,000, also known as the Apple Capital of the World. Based on our experience, I put together our recommendations for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay when visiting Wenatchee, Washington with kids!
Things to do when Visiting Wenatchee, Washington with Kids
Our soft structured carrier (we use the Ergo) has been a lifesaver for us when it comes to flying with our babies. It might actually be our number one thing for parents of babies and young toddlers to bring with them when traveling by air plane, aside from extra clothes, diapers, and wipes of course. The carrier allows me to be hands free so that I can pull luggage or hold my preschooler’s hand, I’m not bogged down with a stroller, and it provides a place for the child to sleep or just hang out around the airport and on the plane.
There are several important things to be aware of though before venturing off with your little one. Hopefully these little pieces of information will help you know what to expect so that your not caught off guard when approached by a TSA officer or flight attendant. Safe travels!
Last weekend we got to enjoy the small city of Wenatchee, Washington. Wenatchee is located in North Central Washington about 2.5 hours from Seattle and 3 hours from Spokane, Washington at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers.
After Slaed attended a conference there over the summer and brought back various tourism information showcasing their new public market and natural beauty of the region, I knew I just had to get out to Wenatchee! I had to see it all for myself, or at least more than just a passing through for breakfast or lunch like I’d done once or twice on our way elsewhere.
Wenatchee’s claim to fame is Apples, and the city identifies as the Apple Capital of the world. Washington State produces the most apples in the U.S. (about 100 million boxes), and a huge chunk of the deliciously tasty fruit comes from the Wenatchee Valley. Fun fact: Every single one of those apples are picked by hand!
Since the area boasts 300 days of sunshine a year (plus rich lava-ash soil), it’s ideal for growing apples, but it’s also ideal for a family who may be a little tired of the rainy Western Washington late fall & winter. We didn’t get sunshine for this visit, but we did get a break from the precipitation, especially on this particular day where there was flooding, high winds, and power outages all throughout the state.
Be on the look out for a full city guide of things to do with kids, places to eat, and where to stay, but in the meantime please enjoy this quick snapshot of our trip!
When you are traveling from your city to another major city, of course it makes sense to fly direct. It’s faster and more streamlined–that’s no question. But what about (long haul) travel to a smaller area when a layover and 2nd flight is almost always necessary?
You might be surprised, for example that when we travel to the Carolinas to visit family, we often fly to the Atlanta airport. And instead of catching a connecting flight to Charlotte, we drive over 4 hours to where our family lives. We had a similar situation with our trip to the Outer Banks in September. We flew into Washington, D.C. and drove 4.5 hours to our family’s cottage in Duck, North Carolina instead of connecting to Norfolk. Also, instead of flying directly to Wisconsin for a week-long vacation there a couple summers ago, we flew in and out of Chicago, and rented a car to travel to Madison and further north to a small town on Lake Michigan.
We have our reasons, and I thought they might provide some help or ideas in planning your holiday travel and vacations in the new year. One important factor: These reasons are all based on the fact that we need a car at our destination, and would rent one regardless of how close our ultimate destination was to the airport.
Missoula, Montana was the last leg of our big Idaho-Montana road trip this past summer. Missoula is near and dear to our hearts. Slaed went to college there at the University of Montana, and for me, Missoula was the very first town that I visited in Montana. That may not seem like a big deal, but Montana was high on my list of places to see, so I have fond memories of crossing the border from Idaho, where I was volunteering with Americorps after college, to Big Sky Country.
For this particular visit, we stayed two nights, and as usual managed to squeeze in quite a bit of fun and activity into our days. This was our first time bringing the kids to Missoula and so much nostalgia comes along with visiting your old college town, so we had a lot to show them! My guide of what to do, where to eat, and where to stay with kids will hopefully give you an idea of what we were up to, and provide you with some possible plans for when you decide to visit!
A week in North Carolina’s Outer Banks was quite the trek for our wild little family, but the cross country flight and decent (4.5 hours) car ride were more than worth the hassle to have an unforgettable experience.
Quality time spend with my brother, sister, and their families, plus my mom and dad, a family friend, and my cousin & her family.
A chance for Bergen and Georgia to play with their cousins (6 in all)
Getting to show Slaed, Bergen and Georgia my family’s beach cottage and the place my family vacationed throughout my entire childhood, but haven’t visited in 10 years!
In short the trip involved a lot of sand, a lot of sun (and sunscreen), many magical sunsets, and a ton of tasty meals. I’m sharing a few snapshots and highlights here, but as always stay tuned for more nitty-gritty details in the coming weeks.
We spent the majority of our time in Duck, a small town on the northern end of the Outer Banks. However, you’ll see from the quick photo essay that we ventured north to visit Corolla Beach Lighthouse as well as south to climb the east coast’s tallest sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge, and honor our wizards in the flight at the Wright Brother’s Memorial.
Greetings from the road! Our Idaho-Montana road trip is coming to a close so as the kids nap at our vacation rental here in Missoula, Montana I thought I’d check-in with a quick overview of our trip.
Days 1, 2 & 3: Hayden Lake, Idaho
With all four of our children’s grandparents living a significant distance away from our home here in Seattle, we have quite a bit of experience with out of town visits. Lucky for us, we love to travel, AND each of our parents happen to live in fun, beautiful locales.
Through the years, we’ve learned ways to make each trip comfortable for everyone involved, and at the same time memorable and special. If you take the following into consideration, we think you too will have a successful visit with the grandparents.
1. Length of Stay.
We suggest planning well in advance, and settling on an ideal number of days that is comfortable for both you and your host. Personally we think that a week would be the longest we’d stay (unless we rented a vacation home) with 4 or 5 nights being the most ideal. However itineraries greatly depend on how far you might be traveling. When we travel all the way across the country, we tend to plan a longer stay. Regardless, be sure to send your host a copy of your itinerary so they are aware of your travel arrangements!
2. Sleeping Arrangements.
Consider your sleeping arrangements at home and what works best for you and your kids. Then work with your host ahead of time to plan for a similar set up. In a perfect world we would all have our own separate spaces just like at home, but we all know that is hard to recreate on the road. We do get creative though, and have had kids sleeping in closets and laundry rooms! Definitely important to think outside the box. Not all grandparents have ample room (or are prepared to accommodate entire families) in their homes, so vacation rentals should also be considered. VRBO, Home Away, and Airbnb are great places to start.
Our parents have always been happy to stock up on a few important food staples to make the kids feel more at home, and to make meal time easier. Milk, bread, fruit, cheese, and cereal seem to please most. Come up with a short list a few days before your trip, and make sure to alert your hosts of food allergies.
4. Toys and books.
A few toys and a small collection of books picked up at the thrift store or goodwill (even the dollar store!) will go a long way with keeping little ones entertained and happy while grown-ups visit and catch up. This also comes in handy for those early risers who need some amusement before the rest of the house wakes up. See if your host might be willing to do a little shopping for you ahead of time.
Important questions to think about:
- Car Seats?
- Number of spots in the host’s car?
- Will you need a rental car?
- Is your host able to pick you up at the airport, train station, etc?
6. Kid/Baby Accessories.
Note all of the devices and accessories that you use for your routines at home. Choose what’s essential, and work with your host to see if they are able to secure any items for you. Car seats, high chairs, strollers, baby seats/swings can often be rented or collected from friends and family nearby.
We try to do a bit of research ahead of time to get an idea of some of the attractions and sights we are most interested in seeing. We prepare for a balance of activity and downtime so as not to exhaust everyone. We also consider what would work best for the ages (and nap times) of our kids at the time of that particular visit. We also leave wiggle room (or talk ahead) for allowing our hosts to choose activities–no need to run the entire show!
8. Courtesy and Flexibility (Dos and Don’ts).
Do make yourself aware of your host’s sleeping preferences. If your hosts go to bed early, keep the house quiet in the evening. If they like to sleep in, do your best to quiet your kids if they are early risers. We often take the kids outside for a walk or run to get coffee in the morning.
Do clean up after yourself and your children. Dishes, picking up clothes & toys, straightening up in the bathroom, making beds all should be part of your routine.
Don’t plan a rigid and packed schedule. No need to micromanage the entire visit. Plan for a few activities or have a loose outline, and leave the rest to figure out as you go.
Don’t leave without tidying up. Talk to your host and find out what would be most helpful. You might strip the beds and start a load of laundry with linens and towels, but check with your host first!
9. Kid/Baby Proof.
Close to our arrival, we try to do a quick sweep of the home for potential hazards and items that are breakable and within the reach of tiny hands. Often our parents do this ahead of time any way, but sometimes they miss things or don’t realize just how destructive kids can be at times! Better to be safe than sorry with valuable, important, and/or sentimental possessions. We also talk with our kids, and lay down some ground rules for what’s okay and not okay to touch.
10. Gifts and Thank yous.
Simple gifts go a long way in showing hosts how much you appreciate their hospitality and willingness to open their home to you. Coffee, a bottle of wine, a candle, flowers, or something special from your hometown are all good gifts that come to mind. Hosts might also appreciate being taken out for a meal, or having a meal cooked for them at home. When we return home, we always send a written thank you note. Sometimes we even enclose photos from our visit!
What else should families consider when visiting out-of-town grandparents?
Come join the conversation! You can keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email. We’d also love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! If you enjoyed this post, please “like it”, “tweet it” or “pin it”!
Waxhaw, North Carolina isn’t exactly a hot spot for tourism or a big adventure destination, but since we’ve visited the lovely small town a few times now, and it’s where my sister and her family call home, I thought it deserved a little attention.
Waxhaw is located about 40 minutes south of (downtown) Charlotte, and is situated just over 2 miles from the North Carolina-South Carolina border. This proximity actually causes a great debate around the region as to where the true birth place of our 7th president, Andrew Jackson, was born. Both states claim him as their own and feature plaques depicting this to be true. In my opinion, after visiting Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster, South Carolina, the Palmetto State gets to hold the title, but that’s neither here nor there.
Since we always stay with family, I don’t have recommendations for lodging or accommodations, but I do have plenty of recommendations for fun activities and delicious dining!
Where to Play in Waxhaw
Last month we visited family in the Carolinas. Like much of the rest of the country, the Charlotte area was experiencing extremely hot weather even for their typical early summer standards. In fact, while we were there, a record was set for highest temperature on that particular day. A high of 99 degrees beat out the old record of 98 degrees set back in 1890!
Heat alone is almost manageable. What makes these conditions almost unbearable though is the humidity. The sticky muggy thick air that makes you just want to head for the hills, or at least just run inside to some nice cool air conditioning. I always compare the feeling to being wrapped in a warm cozy blanket. At first it might feel almost doable, but after awhile, nobody wants a blanket around them when it’s already burning hot!
We’re not people who like to be cooped up though, so I’m thankful that were still able to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors. By living through the experience, and observing how my sister handles the weather with her 3 active boys, we came up with quite a few ways to make the most of the heat and humidity while still staying happy outdoors.
1. Water Play.
When you’re in the backyard of a new neighborhood where the trees are not mature enough to provide much shade, the heat and humidity can catch up to you fast. Add in some water play though, and it not only makes things a whole lot more fun, but you forget all about that uncomfortable mugginess when your soaking wet! My sister equipped each boy (Bergen + his 3 cousins) with a water gun and set out a bucket of water for easy refilling. The boys went crazy on each other while the adults just sat back and watched the fun unfold. If we got sprayed “by accident”? No need to panic. We were probably better off.
2. Frequent Visits to the Pool.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we just don’t make the time to get all the gear together and head to the swimming pool. Lucky for us, my sister’s neighborhood pool was just a quick walk away. I loved taking the time to pack snacks and drinks to enjoy during breaks from splashing, and even more I love how much pool time wears the kids out so sleep comes so much easier. Also, don’t underestimate the size of that pool! Kiddie pools in the backyard, and wading pools at the local park can be almost as refreshing!
3. Spend time on the Water.
Swimming pools are great and all, but the real beauty of nature comes through at the creeks, lakes, and oceans that are close to our locale. During our recent visit to the Carolinas a visit to the Atlantic Ocean would have been preferable. However, since the closest beach is about 3 hours away (too far for this trip), we made do with a small lake at one of the local parks nearby. Being on the water really does make a difference in terms of getting a break from the humidity. Just don’t go kayaking or paddle boating out in the middle of the lake with the hot sun beaming straight down on you! I’m sure glad we stuck to the shore.
4. Shaded Playgrounds.
Shaded playgrounds are a lifesaver for surviving the humidity with kids! I’m so glad my sister knows her town well, and picked out spots that were bearable and actually quite pleasant, especially knowing how much fun the kids were having together. Play areas with a generous tree canopy are ideal!
5. Shaded Hikes.
Just like those shaded playgrounds, a nice shady hike allows everyone to get some of that restless energy out while still maintaining a somewhat reasonable temperature. While visiting my sister, we chose a forested hike that roughly followed the lake shore. This made for some nice views, and provided us with opportunities to dip our feet into the water if we felt so inclined!
Earlier in the week, an impromptu walk along some of the paved pathways (also very well shaded) in her neighborhood provided some really nice outdoor time. And to top it all off, we picked wild blackberries along the way–a refreshing treat rewarding us for our good effort to get out in nature.
6. Indulge in Delicious “Hot Weather” Foods.
Here are some of the foods we enjoyed that also seemed to cool us down, plus a few more ideas that come to mind:
- Fruit, especially watermelon, frozen grapes, and berries
- Ice cream!
- Fresh veggies like tomatoes, peppers, & peas
I felt like I was drinking constantly during this trip, and even though sometimes that was a glass of wine or a beer, it really did make all the difference in my comfort level. It was so important for Bergen and Georgia’s comfort as well. With all that activity (mainly from Bergen, of course), staying fueled and hydrated is even more important. Hydration can sometimes get away from kids though because they are so busy. Making a point to take breaks helped curb meltdowns, and allowed us to keep going strong for the remainder of each day.
Do you live in a super humid climate or are you visiting one this summer? What are your tips for still enjoying the outdoors?
Come join the conversation! You can keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email. We’d also love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! If you enjoyed this post, please “like it”, “tweet it” or “pin it”!